Feeling Less Than May Make You Want to Eat More
Many dysregulated eaters chronically feel less than. They’re sure they’re not qualified for a job, even after getting hired. Comparing themselves to others, they always come up short. No matter what they’re doing or who they’re with, the feeling of being less than what others expect of them (or of what they expect of themselves) overwhelms them. Feeling smaller than, they eat to feel bigger.
Here are some examples:
· A client we’ll call Joe met a woman named Marla doing online dating and they went
out a few times. During conversation, without bragging or being uppity, she mentioned that she came from a wealthy family. Joe, who grew up in poverty and now made a decent income for a man his age, felt that she would never be interested in him. When he met her family several weeks later, he continued to feel less than around them and that they could never accept him. Though he liked Marla, he stopped calling her.
· A client we’ll call Laura had been told by her mother her whole life that unless
she was thin, she would never be happy. Laura began dieting as a pre-adolescent and continued through her twenties. Of course, between diets, she always gained the weight back until she was over 200 pounds. Even when she became a corporate executive, though she was pretty and dressed well, she mostly felt less than because of her weight. Whenever she was out with friends or colleagues, no matter how they tried to praise and support her, she never felt as good as them.
· A client we’ll call Trudy made what she thought of as many mistakes in her life.
Pregnant at 16, she had her baby two days after high school graduation. She took various low-level jobs, enough to support herself and her son, and never asked for help from his irresponsible father. Because she needed money, she occasionally dated men who had a good deal of it though she didn’t love (or sometimes even like) them. She believed she would always be less than everyone who counted because of her early pregnancy and never having attended college. Less than felt like a permanent defective condition.
What all these clients had in common was that they were emotional and binge eaters. After his dates with Marla, no matter how well went, Joe came home feeling inadequate and like a loser—and headed for the cookie jar. Laura tried to comfort herself about not being as thin as her friends and colleagues by—you guessed it—eating. And Trudy made herself feel better about a past she could not change and gave too much
importance to, by hitting a couple of her favorite take-out restaurants, bringing the food home and gorging on it.
If you have a chronic case of feeling less than, inadequate and not good enough, it’s probably time to seek out therapy to understand how your past is incorrectly shaping your present (and future) and to learn how to avoid turning to food when this feeling crops up. You might never resolve your eating problems or live the life you deserve if you don’t turn this wrong-headed, “I’m not good enough” concept around.
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